Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Elias Rankings, plus more

MLBTR has the new Elias Rankings, done with a midweek update thanks to the Hill/Mac-Johnson trade, and there's a bit of a shuffle.

Jose Molina remains a Type-B, which, if nothing else, is a testament to how fucking broken this whole system is. The big change is under the 2B-3B-SS category, where Kelly Johnson, who moves from the NL to the AL, becomes the lowest ranked Type-A free agent, bumping Yunel Escobar from Type-A status, which doesn't matter at all since he's not a free agent until four years from now.  His inclusion to the AL picture probably didn't have much to do with the fact that Edwin Encarnacion is now the lowest ranked Type-B, tied with Mark Reynolds, and barely above Robert Andino.  He'll have to swing a decently hot bat for the rest of the year to remain in that picture, but there's no reason to think that he can't do that.

Jon Rauch and Frank Francisco remain Type-B's, though Rauch's combined suckiness and giant appendix, his chances of keeping that status is lowering by the day.  Shawn Camp has quite a few guys between him and Type-B status, which sucks for a guy who began the year as a Type-A.  He probably won't get there.  Carlos Villanueva is actually the second highest ranked non-type-B player, which, despite being under team control beyond next year, can still have an effect on things if he comes back soon, as he could theoretically perform well and knock Rauch out of the running.

Obviously the big thing to wonder about here is Johnson and just what happens if he does in fact retain Type-A.  I kind of touched on this yesterday, but the big question is whether or not Johnson accept the arbitration offer that the Jays will inevitably (?) offer to Johnson at the end of the season.  Johnson was due for a regression coming in to this season, but I think he kind of overdid that, and I'm sure the Jays realize this as well, to the point where they can expect him to return to form often enough to justify giving him an arbitration offer even if they don't particularly want him back next year.

As AA said in his presser yesterday, this team needs both a backup infielder and a starting 2B next season (when talking about the possibility of Mac or Hill coming back next year), which I think gives us at least some perspective on what he thinks about the Johnson situation in terms of whether he declines arbitration/whether they offer it.  I honestly don't think the Jays go out of their way to acquire Johnson if they don't expect to offer arbitration, but he's a lot smarter than I am, so maybe I don't know what's going on there.

Anyway, I only see three possible scenarios here:

  • Johnson finishes the season as a Type-A, The Jays offer Johnson arbitration, and he accepts. One of two things happen under that scenario.
    • The Jays give Johnson a year under his arbitration contract, and he tries to rebuild value.  Nothing really suggests that he can be bad enough to drop down below Type-B status (though we thought the same about Hill when he started the year as Type-A), so the Jays would probably get a pick from him after next season.
    • The Jays work out a contract with him to avoid arbitration, probably replete with club options the way AA always does.  This will allow the Jays to capitalize on Johnson if he does happen to return to form the way he seems to do every even numbered year.
  • Johnson finishes the season as a Type-A, The Jays offer Johnson arbitration, and he rejects it.
    • This only happens if he and/or his agent decides that he is, without a doubt, the best 2B available on the market (which he probably is), and despite the poor season, he can still get a multi-year contract on the Free Agent market.
  • Johnson finishes the season as a Type-B, The Jays offer arbitration.
    • Under this scenario, really anything can happen.  As a type-B, he won't cost a team a first round pick the way he might as a Type-A (the 15 teams with the lowest records will have their first round picks protected from compensation, plus any team who signs a higher ranked Type-A can then sign Johnson and give up a second rounder).  As such, Johnson might eschew the 1-year contract he'd get through an arbiter in favor for whatever the free agent market may offer in terms of multi-year deals.  The Jays would then be forced to find a replacement, either through free agency or trade.  Mark Ellis, Marco Scutaro, Omar Infante and Aaron Hill are all set to hit the market this offseason, or maybe a guy like Orlando Hudson or Chris Getz could be had to fill in.
    • Johnson might also still accept arbitration, thinking that he won't find a raise on the free agent market.  If this happens, it's not really a big deal.  The Jays will need a 2nd baseman, and if Johnson wants to hang around, I'm sure AA would gladly accept the upgrade over Aaron Hill.  If he sucks, hopefully Hech pans out, but even if he doesn't, there always seems to be all kinds of different scenarios that present themselves, similar to the way Colby Rasmus suddenly became available, despite being "untouchable" this time last year.
Apparently Johnson had to fly from Washington to Phoenix yesterday to pick up his passport, and then fly back across the continent to Toronto today, which means he might not be available for tonight's game.

I know I freaked out last night when Mark Teahen pinch hit for Colby Rasmus, since it seemed to be some kind of strategical move at the time (at least that's what I thought/was outraged about), but it turns out that Rasmus jammed his wrist against the CF wall making a catch, and was pulled as a precaution.  No word as of right now on whether or not he plays tonight, though this tweet that I'm using as a source from @shidavidi is 15 hours old.

Speaking of Rasmus, since the trade, he's hitting .241/.256/.443 (and playing excellent defense, by the way), while Jon Jay has been hitting .212/.255/.250.  Nice try Tony La Russa/John Mozeliak.

And umm, why didn't anybody tell me about the Tim Hortons/Coldstone deal that the Jays struck?  

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